It has been a while since Lego released a game purely on the strength of it’s own brand, with many of the most recent Lego games featuring some sort of film or pop culture tie in. Lego Worlds bucks that trend, featuring a protagonist that is entirely your own creation (albeit limited to start with) and without a film or TV property in sight – so does it still manage to bottle the magic, or does the gamble lack the Hollywood touch?
Instant comparisons to Minecraft abound – Lego Worlds is a block building game with the blocks that arguably made the whole thing popular in the first place, only this time in digital form. You start in space, in an opening sequence that is highly reminiscent of the film Gravity – a little Lego minifig has his (or her) ship absolutely battered by asteroids, forcing you to crash-land on a planet in the form of a cube like world built entirely from Lego bricks. Every Lego brick is accounted for, bricks of all shapes, colour and size are yours to play with in what is an instantly charming and nostalgic-inducing game world, and it really is a sight to behold, especially if you’re like me and never had any of the really expensive kits as a child – it is quite easy to feel pulled in by the whole appeal of the potential and allure of future builds at your finger tips. In actual fact, it would be quite easy to get overwhelmed by it all if it wasn’t for some nifty features that have been implemented to stop you from jumping in and instantly building that model of your dreams, such as having certain blocks locked, only becoming available once various actions have been met such as catching green, goblin-looking creatures called troublemakers that randomly spawn as you travel about, or by finding and discovering the bricks with the first tool you unlock, a large gun kept in your massive pockets that allows you to aim and catalogue the various fixtures and fittings that litter the game world, one of many tools that you eventually unlock to have at your disposal. These tools are slowly introduced in such a way that it helps to prevent you feeling overwhelmed by it all, and most, if not all serve some sort of useful purpose – the only tool I haven’t really used is the ability to change the colour of any brick by painting it outside of completing quests, but I can see how this is handy should I want to build my own structures later on.
Alongside building and questing, there are a range of customisation options under the hood. Completing quests often allows you to unlock the quest giver as a playable character, allowing you to customise your look even more beyond the starting astronaut. Vehicles and animals that litter the land are discoverable too, and many can be ridden as mounts or driven about allowing you to navigate the world quickly. Often many of these vehicles have extra abilities too – planes can fly, diggers can remove Lego bricks, steamrollers can be driven and lay down road in their path, allowing you to traverse canyons quickly and building a bridge to return via later on, and it is this depth of design and customisation that is truly impressive. Moving between worlds is simply a case of returning to your space ship and moving on to another Lego planet, hauling your ever-growing inventory along with you. Different Worlds consist of different Biomes, each featuring assorted buildings, animals, and vehicles that are all discoverable, from deserts with cowboys and cactuses littering the landscape, or fairy-tale lands with castles and fair maidens. All can be collected on your travels and used elsewhere – discover a digger on one world that sucks up bricks and clears a path? Select it, discover it, buy it with studs collected by destroying small builds and you have that digger available to use as and when you want, as often as you want. This is true for all items you discover, and it really does open up a lot of possibilities and play styles, and this freedom is refreshing.
The fact that the tools are slowly introduced is a smart move, as I would probably have jumped right in and got building without really seeing what else Lego Worlds had to offer, and to be honest, having spent a few hours with the game it is the ability to build anything I want that ultimately I have spent the least amount of time with. This is largely due to clever game design that forced me to go out and explore and experiment with Lego Worlds before I unlocked all of my god-like abilities in creating anything I wanted – however it is this aspect where Lego Worlds sometimes inevitably trips itself up.
Lego Worlds succeeds in achieving many of the things it sets out to do, but where it falls down is in the fact that it tries to be two different games at once – on the one hand it is a giant sandbox focusing on building and collecting new bricks and items in order to be able to build a greater variety of buildings, and on the other, an open world full of fetch quests and unlockable items and abilities. Both work independently of the other, but it is when the boundaries of the two cross paths that some small problems arise. The range of abilities offered up in order to build are useful and robust, if a bit fiddly when using a controller, and when building you have pretty much everything you could possibly want to build anything you could imagine. Use these powers with the fetch quests that minifigs located in the game world offer you however, and it almost feels like cheating. Need a building built to collect a golden brick? Quickly fire in a prefabricated one and avoid having to build one brick by brick, or copy one using the copy tool and stick that in, and often these are shortcuts that weren’t meant to be taken.
Later, dungeons are introduced when you unlock the larger worlds to visit, and it is here that the powers you have at your disposal really feel both a blessing and a curse, depending on how you want to play. The dungeons introduce a range of new features that aren’t found anywhere else such as spike traps or pillars of flame, with a locked treasure chest containing some rare loot as your reward, and they are clearly designed to challenge you to navigate them with skill and dexterity and platforming-prowess – failing that, you can just remove all the walls and avoid them completely. Depending on how honest you are this is obviously something you can avoid, but the temptation is always there due by and large to the tools you have available to create often getting in the way or belittling the quest parts of Lego Worlds.
This is equally true for other puzzles or quests that pop up, such as hunting for chests that spawn in random locations either above or below ground, shown by beams of light that shine straight up to help you locate their location quickly. More often than not they are hidden underground, and can be found by finding caves and then seeking them out – or blast your way down with items, or a vehicle, or simply remove all the blocks and fall straight down until you find the cavern it is in, which was my preferred method. This did lead to a few hiccups, as I did find a few problems with lag and areas loading after spending a few hours on some Worlds and terraforming them to suit my play style, destroying or building too much, but this was fairly understandable. Apart from that and one rather random bug I encountered which caused cheats to spawn inside chests, I found Lego Worlds to be surprisingly stable, considering the amount of items and abilities available.
I have spent many hours in Lego Worlds and have found it to be a fun, new take on the Lego video game, arguably going back to it’s roots and focusing on building, with aspects of the games in the past still accounted for. If you’ve played Lego games before and want more of the same, you’ve got that covered by questing and gold bricks to collect, but with the added bonus of building thrown in. Different in some ways, similar in many, Lego Worlds was a gamble when compared to the games that have come before it, but in my opinion, the gamble paid off.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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